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A Litany for Survival - A Recital : Computational Art

A Recital of the famous Audre Lorde poem with the performer rendered ghostlike by movement, melting into a painting, voice activating the colour changes, and revealing the words.


For a digital recital of the poem Litany for Survival by Audre Lorde, I wanted to evoke the fleeting, fearful sense of presence while using the voice to trigger changes in the visual experience.

The poem speaks to the importance of using one’s voice in spite of fear and as a means of survival, so in this work, the drawing of the performer only ‘survives’ if they are speaking and so in movement. The performer is also the first viewer, able to both read the poem as it is delivered line by line only once they have spoken.

The work inter-weaves a painting of a shoreline, text from the poem and drawing of the performer rendered using Frame Differencing.

This is the third iteration.

Taking key aspects of the poem, the importance of using the voice, the ephemeral sense of presence and sense of universality of experience, the app is designed to allow for performances of the poem by anyone. They are rendered without specific identities by the frame differencing which only draws the parts in movement.

The aesthetic of frame differencing with changing colours was appealing for several reasons. This rendering leaves only the vital (moving) parts and ignores complex detail.

Lately in my studio practice I have been exploring different drawing techniques. My practice is clearly led by use of and response to colour. In this project I wanted to explore abstraction as I have done with my drawings as well as how I have been influenced by the ‘Computer works’ series by Michael Craig Martin. I wanted a ghostly treatment of a video of a poetry reading.

Originally I wanted to re-imagine the work of Michael Craig Martin. I love the use of colour in his ‘Computer work’ series. I have made my own abstracted drawings which leave only the fewest details into posters and graphics. I am also interested in using neon for example by Tracey Emin and Glenn Ligon. Glenn Ligon’s work was recently featured in an exhibition I read about called ‘Grief and Grievance’. This connected to an idea for work I made earlier in the masters program called ‘Sorry for your Loss’. The poem, 'A Litany of Survival', by Audre Lorde, speaks about the resilience of the survivor and the response to racism. I wanted to handle skin colour without specifically referring to it, so anyone using the sketch has the same treatment. I also wanted to hint at erasure.


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